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Dodgers Play One to Forget : L.A., Which Has Lost 12 of Last 14 Games, Is Blanked by Pirates

July 06, 1986|GENE WOJCIECHOWSKI | Times Staff Writer

Years from now, Dodger pitcher Orel Hershiser actually may chuckle when reminded of a certain 5-0 loss administered to him by the Pittsburgh Pirates one Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.

Sipping perhaps on a glass of cold milk, Hershiser will recall how the Pirates weren't very good that year, but gosh darn it, how they could pester the Dodgers, who weren't exactly the '27 Yankees themselves. Hershiser can then try to explain the night he saw the Pirates complete a second-inning double steal for one run and add a three-run homer--all with two outs.

And maybe he'll even muse about how he could have, should have escaped the inning without a run.

Just for fun, Hershiser may want to discuss how veteran Bob Walk, who spent much of the 1985 season with the Pirate Triple-A team in Hawaii and entered the game against the Dodgers with a 1-2 record and a 4.43 earned-run average as a Pittsburgh starter, held Los Angeles to four singles.

That would be Hershiser's nature: composed, understanding, Eagle Scout-like.

Then again, Hershiser could heave his milk at a wall, throw a fit, let loose with some sailor's language and be perfectly justified.

Saturday's defeat by the Pirates was a game that Hershiser should try to erase from his memory. That way he could forget that the second inning ever took place or that the Dodgers, with a lineup chock-full of substitutes, failed to deliver a single run while losing for the 12th time in their last 14 games.

Hershiser's misery all began with a single to left field by former Dodger R.J. Reynolds, who bears no grudge at last year's trade that sent him to Pittsburgh. He's only batting .429 against his former employers.

Reynolds moved to second base when Tony Pena beat out a grounder to deep shortstop. Up came Jim Morrison, who bounced a grounder to Dodger third baseman Jeff Hamilton. Hamilton threw to second for one out, and Steve Sax threw to first for the double play. Meanwhile, Reynolds had made it safely to third.

With pitcher Walk and his .214 batting average on deck, the Dodgers, quite appropriately, issued an intentional base on balls to Rafael Belliard. All Hershiser had to do now was dispose of Walk and the inning was over.

Except that the Pirates successfully executed a double steal, a move that Pittsburgh Manager Jim Leyland later described as "not a very good play, really."

Really? It worked Saturday night.

As Hershiser began to throw to Walk, Belliard broke toward second, and Reynolds, a moment later, sprinted toward home as Dodger catcher Alex Trevino took Hershiser's pitch and threw to Sax, who had positioned himself near second for the tag.

But Belliard stopped, and the right-handed Sax, who was running toward first base to get Belliard, was forced to turn around and throw home to Trevino in hopes of preventing a run.

Everything was going well until Sax released the ball. It sailed slightly, causing Trevino to leap for the high throw and allowing Reynolds to slide under the late tag. Belliard also moved to second to complete the play.

"The guy ran, I got the ball, I chased him down, threw high, the guy scored. That was it," Sax said.

Not exactly. Hershiser then proceeded to give up a single to Walk, which allowed Barry Bonds an unexpected at-bat. Bonds sent a 3-and-2 curveball "right down the middle," Hershiser said, into the left-center-field seats for a three-run homer.

The Pirates scored their fifth run in the seventh inning. In Dodger fashion, an error, this time committed by first baseman Len Matuszek, let Bonds reach first. After a sacrifice bunt, Bonds scored on Johnny Ray's single to left.

Left holding his sixth loss against seven victories was Hershiser, who fell victim to the Big Inning, the same affliction that beset Fernando Valenzuela an evening earlier.

"If I get Walk out, Bonds never gets up," he said. "It's a 1-0 game.

"Legitimately, it could have been 0-0 or 1-0 if I do my job."

Actually, had Sax made the throw, the Dodgers might have been saved the embarrassment of sinking deeper into last place in the NL West, still 8 1/2 games behind the San Francisco Giants. Sax didn't, and Hershiser then compounded problems by allowing hits to Walk and Bonds.

"One-oh is nothing after two innings," Hershiser said. "Four-oh is a little different."

According to Reynolds, the double steal wasn't run as planned. Reynolds was supposed to leave as Trevino threw to second. But Reynolds said he had a difficult time picking up the flight of the ball and hesitated. "It was kind of like a broken play," Reynolds said. "We did everything backward."

Said Leyland: "You're looking like a fool if something good doesn't happen. You look like an idiot because your pitcher will be leading off the next inning. The thing was, we were basically trying to catch somebody by surprise. We were trying to steal a run."

Leyland and Reynolds went as far as to say the Dodgers handled the situation perfectly. "He got rid of the ball in time," Reynolds said, "but I got a good jump and he just got the ball up."

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